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12 of Oklahoma's beautifully creepy abandoned places, part 2

by Richard Hall Modified: October 31, 2013 at 8:15 am •  Published: October 31, 2013

Of all of the blog posts I’ve written, the original “12 of Oklahoma’s beautifully creepy abandoned places” is one of my favorites. Thanks to the people at Abandoned Oklahoma, we’re able to get a unique look at some of the most interesting, albeit sometimes depressing, places in Oklahoma. It gives us Okies a look at the history of our cities, counties and state.

Since it’s October, I thought doing a second installment of the series would be a solid idea, so I hope you enjoy it.

For more photos of these places, check out the gallery in this article. All photos by the Abandoned Oklahoma team.

12. Tydol Oil Refinery, Drumright

The Tydol Oil Refinery, located in Drumright, was once a major refinery in all of the United States. They produced Veedol motor oil and the Flying A-branded products. Once the refinery was built, the community soon followed, which included a school and some stores.

Once the refinery was shut down, however, the town basically disappeared with it.


11. Atoka First Presbyterian Church, Atoka

The congregation at the Atoka First Presbyterian Church was booming in the 1930s, but by the 1960s had shrunk to just 40-something members. Despite the Presbyterians’ long history in the area, the costs of keeping the building running as donation dollars ceased was enough to shut the doors in the 1990s.

Abandoned Oklahoma points out the uniqueness of the church: It was built by the Faudree Brothers, whom were notable contractors in the early 1900s. The building is also structurally unique and is the lone example of a Romanesque Revival-style church in Atoka County.


10. Old Kingfisher Regional Hospital, Kingfisher

I’m happy the Abandoned Oklahoma team was able to visit the site for the original Kingfisher Regional Hospital because it has since been razed. There’s nothing much to say about this spot other than it was built in 1940 and wasn’t in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. So, a new hospital was built elsewhere in town and the old one was torn down.


9. Eastern State Hospital, Vinita

The Abandoned Oklahoma page for Eastern State Hospital has a great read on the location’s history, but some of the more interesting tidbits include: The hospital received its first patients in 1913 and by 1954 it had risen to more than 2,000; for a long time hospital workers were required to live on the grounds and meals were part of their salaries; and there was a farm on the grounds that was renowned for its dairy, and it produced a great deal of fresh produce and meat.

The hospital was also home to some influential doctors in the world of mental health, and the pioneering of treatments and medicines.


8. Blackburn, Okla.

The town of Blackburn got its start in the early 1890s after a post office was established. It was incorporated in 1909, but two years prior was one of the great whiskey towns of the Oklahoma Territory.

Although Blackburn was a healthy community, it never saw its true potential because it didn’t have a railroad or highway running through it. Its population peaked at 335 in 1910. The 2000 census noted just 102 people called Blackburn home at that time.


7. Whispering Pines, Norman

My wife and I live a couple blocks from Whispering Pines in Norman, and I clearly remember when it was shut down just a couple years ago. No one really saw it coming, but hindsight is 20/20 and there were obvious signs that it was imminent now that everything is said and done.

It’s an interesting place, especially once you view all of the photos in our gallery and on the Abandoned Oklahoma site. Driving by Whispering Pines doesn’t yield much interest, because it just looks like an old care home. But it was a pretty big place with, apparently, exceptional nurses and administrators that gave exceptional care to their patients.

There’s no word on if it will be repurposed, reopened or razed, but it’s in a decent area near Norman Regional Hospital, so I can see the health system taking it over at some point.


6. Washington School of Shawnee, Shawnee

That’s a beautiful photo, I think. It’s an exterior shot of the Washington School of Shawnee, which was closed down in the 1990s. It was one of three schools all built using the same design and materials in the very early 1900s. Based on what I’ve heard and read, there’s no way this beautiful building can be repurposed due to how the city of Shawnee has migrated much of its development north of this location. Thus, it’s not a sound investment for a business due to the area and location.


5. Pawnee Care Center, Pawnee

Shuttered in 1996, the Pawnee Care Center operated for nearly 30 years as a nursing home. The story is it wasn’t a horrible care center until about the 1980s, when family members of patients and patients themselves began complaining about inadequate care. When the center only had three patients left, it had no choice but to shut things down.


4. Hissom Memorial Center, Sand Springs

It’s 1954 and a man named Wiley G. Hissom decided to donate some of his land to the University of Oklahoma so it could become a place for an experimental farm. When the school failed to make use of the full 85 acres in Sand Springs, Hissom found a way to get the land transferred to the state of Oklahoma so it could be used as a residential area for mentally disabled children.

The Hissom Memorial Center opened its doors in 1964 and welcomed in 1,200 patients. It was a $7 million undertaking, was regarded as a modern marvel in the mental health field and was even referred to as The City of Hope.

Despite all that, the 1980s weren’t kind to the center. A lawsuit was brought against the center, and a court-appointed group of observers decided it would be best if it was shut down due to its “prison-like atmosphere,” among other things.

The final patient left in 1994.


3. Perfect Swing Family Fun Center, Norman

Perfect Swing Family Fun Center is a staple in Norman, even after its closure in 2010. I remember going there a handful of times when I was in high school, in the early part of this century. It was like a Celebration Station, but it had a driving range. A lot of teenagers made it their hangout place on weekend nights, and business seemed to be booming before a storm swept in and devastated it.

Earlier this year, Perfect Swing’s website (which has since disappeared) still said remodeling was on the agenda… But I doubt it. It’s sat in a dilapidated state the past three years and it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever be brought back to life.

The video embedded at the beginning of this article shows recent footage of Perfect Swing, so check it out.


2. L.E. Rader Juvenile Detention Center, Sand Springs

There’s something stirring about detention centers, jails and prisons. What has happened, is happening and will happen behind those walls? A look at the photos from the L.E. Rader Juvenile Detention Center gives us a taste of just went through the heads of some of the youths that called the place home before it shut down in 2011.

Built in the 1970s, the center was shielded from federal investigations and scrutiny due a law that prevented it from receiving grants. When the feds finally stepped in in 2005, the investigation turned up something sinister: The state of Oklahoma and the state’s Department of Juvenile Affairs were slapped with lawsuits that alleged they failed to protect the youths from sexual and physical abuse.


1. Fallis Homestead, Fallis

Have you ever been on a road trip, noticed an abandoned, run-down house on the side of the road, and thought, “I wonder what stories that place can tell”? Well, there’s a small house in Fallis that begged for a visit, and the Abandoned Oklahoma team obliged.

The Fallis Homestead gave the Abandoned Oklahoma team member an eerie feeling, and their thoughts can be read on their post about the place. But while looking at the images, the one that caught my attention is the one posted above. Turns out, it’s an excerpt from a Paul Lawrence Dunbar poem called “We Wear the Mask.” Here it is in its entirety, and its meaning is up for you to decide:

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

by Richard Hall
Digital Media Specialist
Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
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